By: Eileen R. Heltzer, CFRE; Senior Development Officer, IEEE Foundation
The 2024 IEEE Rising Stars Conference was 5-7 January in Las Vegas, NV, USA at the Tropicana Hotel. A record 345 people – many from IEEE Region 6 or undergraduate engineering students just months away from graduation – attended three days of small group educational sessions, keynote panels and networking.
According to Mike Andrews, an IEEE volunteer who co-founded Rising Stars with 2024 IEEE President Tom Coughlin, “We always hold the Rising Stars Conference as a lead event to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). We encourage students to volunteer at the IEEE – CES booth and talk about IEEE with other technology professionals. Attending CES also provides our conference participants to use the skills learned at Rising Stars and for them meet people responsible for the implementation of emerging technologies. “For the first time in Rising Stars’ 10 year history, the conference included a student competition, called “Project Showcase”. Andrews said, “adding the Project Showcase was a great way to encourage the brightest students in engineering and related fields to come to Rising Stars, learn about IEEE and show off projects some of them had been working on for years.”
A total of 20 projects were submitted for consideration by about 15 teams of undergraduate student engineers. An esteemed panel of judges awarded certificates for Introductory, Advanced and Large Group projects. While some competition participants were familiar with the IEEE — and three had received funding from EPICS in IEEE for their work – others were new to the Institute.
“Seeing the projects and meeting the winners at Rising Stars was just phenomenal”, said John McDonald, IEEE Foundation, Vice President of Development. “The students are doing great work, and it was fun to see them in sessions and network with them throughout the conference.” The IEEE Foundation was proud to support the competition.
First prize in the Large Group Project went to students from Arizona State University for their “Hydration Station”. They are attempting to build a mobile machine that can clean, sterilize, and refill reusable water bottles for un-housed people in Arizona. They have partnered with a local non-profit which is currently distributing 2,000 disposable water bottles to people without homes each day. When operational the Hydration Station is intended to remove those disposable water bottles from the ecosystem without sacrificing the needs of the community for fresh water. It may be accessible after-hours and could reduce dehydration-related fatalities.
North Carolina State University’s Project Showcase entry received first place in the Advanced Projects category for “Electric Wheelchair Assistance”. These students are creating a back-pack sized motor that will give manual wheelchairs electronic capabilities, making it easier for either the chair user or a caregiver to operate the existing chair without the added bulk or expense of a fully-electric vehicle.
Other teams recognized at the Rising Stars 2024 Project Showcase came from University of California,Berkeley, Texas A&M, UCLA, University of California, San Diego and Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá [UTP].
The 2024 conference committee worked for about 11 months to secure more than 40 speakers and 27 sponsors. “This is a labor of love,” said Scott Tamashiro, 2024 Conference Chair. “I encourage everyone, especially those who want to inspire – and be inspired by – the next generation, to support the IEEE Rising Stars conference.”
The 2025 Rising Stars Conference is 3 to 5 January, 2025, at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, USA. Register here to be added to the conference mailing list.
To learn more about the IEEE Foundation’s work advancing humanity through technology, please explore the website, IEEE Foundation.